RCS F.E.A.S.T.


With each new school year comes the need to raise funds for our school.  I know each school is the same because I have sweet little faces at my door both at home and work offering me the chance to purchase cookie dough, magazines, sponsor a jog-a-thon, etc.  I totally understand the need to support education, athletics, technology, and the arts.  But…I literally HATE sending my kids door to door to sell cookie dough.  I don’t want the cookie dough.  I don’t need to eat it and I don’t need to store it.  My friends’ kids are all also selling cookie dough.  And, it’s become a joke that we should each just cut our schools a check rather than go through the hassle of some of the fundraisers.  You know what I mean.  I’m sure many of you have the same thing.

This year our school has decided to try something new.  They’ve set up an online platform for fundraising.  We are asking for sponsorships from people to fund the school.  But, we are also going to end our fundraising drive with a awesome event where our kids will pack 10,000 meals for other local students who are less fortunate and are not always sure they will have food available for three meals a day.  So, while we are raising funds for our school we’re also giving our kids an opportunity to serve in the local community and meet a very real need.  It’s exciting.  It’s cool to see our kids serving other kids their age who have a real need that our kids can help fill.  If you are interested at all in Christian education, helping young people who need a meal, or just in helping my family in particular – please check our our family’s page for the fundraising here.  We would love your support.  If you can’t give financially we would love your prayers for this fundraising drive as well as for the event at the end where we pack 10,000 meals. And, it’d be really great if you could pray for the kids who will receive the meals.  Thanks, friends.

F.E.A.S.T. “Funding Education And Serving Together

Here are some photos from our kickoff dinner last night.  It was an amazing time.

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Tis the Season


It’s football and volleyball season.  That means volleyball practices at 6am and football practices until 6pm.  That means rushing to and from work to fit in games and practices.  It means trying to enjoy all the accomplishments my children make while trying to encourage them to improve and grow.  It means dinner is cooked between 7 and 8 at night.

This year I’m coaching my daughter’s volleyball team.  It’s been so fun.  The girls are excited to be there and most are beginners so they haven’t created bad habits yet! The team is made up of 6th and 7th grade girls.  As my husband says – the best part of our game so far is our cheering and our warm up.  But, these girls are coming along and will all make excellent volleyball players very soon.

team

(Yeah, that’s me on the right – shorter than half the players.  I’ve had a few people ask me if it bothers me that I’m shorter than these girls.  Um, NO!  I honestly don’t think about it much and didn’t even notice until I saw this picture.)

Here is my favorite picture so far this season – the formation gets me every time.  (Yes, I’m special).

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I’m more calm this year with the football thing.  Well, I volunteer to run the spirit wear table so I miss 1/2 the game. And, I try not to look when my son is getting hit or hitting people…but I am more calm. HAHA  He still is loving it and it’s been a true joy to watch him improve over the past couple years.  My favorite part is the comradery that is built in to football.  The boys love and protect each other.  There is no instance where that doesn’t happen on the team.  It’s pretty amazing to watch these boys come together like that.  All but six are new – it speaks volumes about their coaches that they enforce that.

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(My boy is #30)

So, with coaching and watching and selling spirit wear the subject of how much time it takes to be a parent for an athlete (or a child in drama or band or whatever) has come up.  It IS time consuming.  It takes hours and hours and hours of our lives to be there to drive, pick up, coach, practice at home, cheer, and just BE there at games.  But, you know what?  How much time is “too much” to invest in our children?  The time they are with us is short.  A mere 18 years before they move on to things that will take them away from us.  My oldest is a junior.  In a year and a half he will be off to college.  How could I ever choose to miss these few passing moments?  I couldn’t.  I can’t imagine not being there for him or experiencing his joys, his letdowns and just his life with him.  The same is true for the twins.  I want to see them growing and learning.  I want to cheer for them when they do well.  I want to cheer for them when they need some encouragement!

 

These are the blessings the Lord has entrusted us with.  All too soon they will be grown.  Enjoy these fleeting moments.  Cheer as loud as you can.  Lose your voice by the end of each game.  Try to attend every performance, every game – we all know none of us will make every single thing – but do your best!  Your kids see you trying and they love you for your efforts.

Motherhood, my friends – embrace it!

 

Do stuff


We are people who do stuff.  This is what we have been labeled by people who label families. At first I thought it was an odd description, but after a bit I realized it’s true.  We are not good at not doing stuff.  We enjoy doing stuff.  We are, in fact, people who do stuff.

The stuff we do is varied and almost always entertaining.  And, I’m positive our kids are learning from our example that doing stuff is actually a good thing.  I cannot imagine what it would be like to just sit around the house from the time I wake up until the time I go to bed.  My mind cannot even comprehend such a situation.  (Though, I don’t mind a little relaxation…)

The thing is, I really hope our lives are about more than just the doing of stuff. I think our lives should be about the stuff we do. And, I hope that people notice when we do stuff it’s not just to fill the time with random activities. We want to be people who are doing stuff that makes a difference. We want to be people who love other people. We want to be people who care for other people. We want to be family to kids who need families. We want to be mentors to kids who need mentors. Ultimately, we want to show Jesus through the stuff we do. It’s all well & good to be busy people who do lots of stuff, but if we lose sight of our one real job – the command to go and share the gospel – well, our busyness means nothing. If people cannot look at us and notice a difference then we need to examine our busyness & re-evaluate.

Did you ever wish?


Yesterday I was feeling nostalgic.  My mind kept drifting to the last time I was alone with my mom while she could still sit up and talk.

Alone time with my mom has always been rare. When you have a large family you don’t expect to spend much time alone with anyone.  And, when you get to you cherish it.  You soak in those moments that are just the two of you.  A week and a half before my mom passed I was alone with her.  Just the two of us. And, we actually got to chat.  We talked about the kids, we talked about siblings, and we talked about life.  After the usual conversations sort of came to a halt she sat quietly for a moment.  She was very good at being calm and quiet without making it feel weird to be there.

After a little bit of quiet she said “Have you ever wished we didn’t adopt you?”

I was surprised to hear that question from her.  She had never asked it before.  She’d never even acted like the thought had occurred to her.  Maybe it hadn’t.  Maybe it was only occurring to her because she knew it might be the last time she had to ask it.

A thousand thoughts went through my head at once.  How can someone explain a heart to someone else who can’t see it and all the feelings mixed up in it?  I have always been a happy person.  I have always believed that no matter where I am, I am blessed, and truthfully someone else has it much worse than me.  I looked at her and said, “No, I’ve never wished that.  I have loved being your daughter and loved being in this family.”  There was more to the conversation, but it really got me thinking about all the emotions and feelings that surround adoption for me.

I’ve continued to think about this conversation for the past four months.  I am sure it’s partly because it’s such a sweet memory and partly because being adopted makes me a little more sensitive to such conversations.   I can honestly say I’ve never wished I wasn’t adopted.  That’s never even been a question.  But, sometimes I wonder just exactly how other adopted people feel and if they have the same questions I sometimes do.  Do they sometimes look at their family and wonder if they really fit in?  Does their heart get a little sad when they realize that so many things are genetic and they will never share that with their siblings and that will always separate them just a little bit?  And, I wonder if those thoughts and feelings are the same if the family has only adopted children as opposed to mixing biological and adopted children?  I don’t know.  I haven’t ever asked anyone I know who is adopted.  I’m sure each family is different and each circumstance is different.   I do know that when all the chips have fallen I don’t first think about the fact that I’m adopted.  And, I’m pretty sure that’s a good thing.

It’s time to forgive


Our lives are filled with many people happy to tell us how we’re doing things wrong.  Lord knows, I’m really great at getting things wrong.  But, today – I want to tell you IT’S OKAY!!  That’s right.  I am sharing with you the joy of knowing that even if you’ve messed some things up – you are gonna be fine.  I’ve noticed that we women are great at giving advice.  And, we’re even better at pointing out how people could have done things better.  But, do you know what I’ve found to be true?  Jesus loves me.  He loves me even if I didn’t do things just exactly how my friends all thought I should.  And, he forgives me for my mistakes.  It’s about time we forgive ourselves, don’t you think?

How is it possible we live in a society that is so judgmental about things that really have nothing to do with anyone else?  When I got married I was young.  So many people told me not to get married because I was ruining my life and I wouldn’t be able to have any fun at all if I wasted my time getting married instead of doing ‘college things’.  The truth is I couldn’t imagine anything I wanted to do without my husband.  I couldn’t think of anywhere I’d want to go without him.  We’ve been married 18 years and I still can’t think of anything I’d want to do without him or anywhere I’d want to go without him.  I really hope people have forgiven me for not making the choice they wanted.  On the flip side my friends and family who got married later heard lots of advice and reasons why they should have married sooner.  They should date more (or less).  They should try to look nicer or maybe try different hang out spots.  Really?  I’m pretty sure most people who are waiting for the right someone are not just sitting there being hideous trolls and slumming it on creepy places.   They are living their lives and trying to do their very best.  How is that not good enough for everyone around us?  You know what?  Forgive yourself for not finding a mate sooner.  You’re on God’s time.  He has a plan and will bring you the person in His time.

When I had my first son everyone had advice on how I should teach him to sleep, eat, and really how do everything.  My mom’s way was different than my mother in law’s way. But, amazingly between the two of them they raised several healthy (mostly) normal adults.  But, even before we got to that I was told how I should birth him.  My natural loving friends told me I should never have my children in a hospital because that’s where sick people go and he’d catch something and die (this literally happened and I was so shocked I didn’t even respond).  My modern marvel medical people thought any home birth was a one way ticket to damaging my baby and more than likely a complication would happen that would kill him.  I seriously considered both options.  But, you know what?  Here’s to the moms who had a birth plan and followed it to the T.  Whether that birth plan was to have them with a midwife, in a bathtub, or with pain pills in a hospital bed.  And, here’s to those moms who really wanted to follow their birth plan but had complications and they had to give up something that really wasn’t that big a deal and just be happy their babies were born healthy.  That’s right.  The goal is always a healthy baby.  We all have our ideas on which way that should happen, but I can tell you nothing is more hurtful or annoying that those who hear what you’ve chosen and decided to inform you that you’re a terrible parent before you’ve even given birth.  Feel free to forgive yourself for not following all the advice of everyone in your life on the birth of your child.  It’s okay.  You want the best for your kids and really that is more about prayer than it is about birthing choice.

To all the moms who struggled over whether they should work or not.  Or, those who couldn’t even struggle over it because it really was the only option to support their family.  I know you drove away from daycare the first day with tears running down your face.  I know your heart felt like it was breaking when you put your sweet baby into someone else’s hands and went to your job.  Forgive yourself for doing the best you can to support your family.  That’s okay.  To all the moms who chose to stay home and lost their place in the rat race – forgive yourself for sacrificing your dreams for your children’s well being.  It’s great that you’re in a place to even have that decision.

To all the moms of toddlers – it’s okay that you cannot even consider reading Goodnight Moon one.more.time.  It’s okay that you let everyone eat Goldfish crackers for lunch today.  Forgive yourself for  doing what you need to do to hold it together.  Forgive yourself for pretending to be deaf in the car when your toddler is asking “why” for about the 456,928,345 time on the 5 minute ride somewhere.  You know what else?  Forgive yourself for that early bedtime and the delicious pre-made margarita you enjoyed while sitting alone on the couch for the first time all day.

To the mom of elementary students – realize it’s okay that you laughed directly at your child when they told you “Today we had a hardcore game of 4-square at school”.  I’m positive they will forget that damaging moment in a mess of other moments of their childhood.  And, it’s okay that when your child says “I’m the only kid in 5th grade without an iPhone”  you do not immediately go buy them one.  When your child says they are the only one who has to help with chores or pay for their own toys or whatever else, feel free to forgive yourself.  You’re trying to instill real life experiences in them and that’s a good thing.

Moms of middle school students – when you can’t hear one more word from the conversation about ‘cute’ boys (or girls) in your child’s class and you tell them phone time is up, you know that’s okay.  When you read every.single. text message just so your kids know when they get to high school that should be considered the norm and your kids are frustrated with you – it’s okay.  You’re being the best mom you can be and that’s the job God gave you (not being the best friend your child can have).

When your high school student feels like the curfew you set is just not gonna work for them and you have to ground them from something they really want to do so they tell you they can’t wait to move out far away – forgive yourself for being so hard.  When they tell their friends you’re mean and strict – forgive yourself.  It’s okay to be known as the parent who sets boundaries.  Seriously, Moms – let’s be MOMS.

You know those days when you set the entire schedule for the week, including doctors appointments, sport practices and games, family time, hangout time for kids, and everything else and then your husband says to your kids ‘No, we’re not doing that.  I’ve planned something different”.  Forgive yourself for the glare you give him.  Or, even more – forgive yourself for saying “Oh, are you taking over the schedule now?  Here’s the list of what needs to happen this week.”  You are human.  You are doing your best.  And, above all – your heavenly Father forgives all these little moments.

It’s time we moms band together.  No one, NO ONE is going to do it like we think they should.  There isn’t a single person on earth who agrees with 100% of what we think.  But. we do have forgiveness in Jesus.  We have someone who loves despite our petty moments and sins.  How awesome is that?  Now, to work on letting go of our guilt and shame for doing our best.  right

 

 

Logical Conversations


When I was in about 4th grade at a small town public school a girl showed up and she was very ‘cool’.  She had cool clothes.  She was mouthy & disrespectful.  And, when I hung out with her on the playground she told me that she was allowed to cuss and swear at home.  Being raised in a Christian home the idea was shocking.  All of my friends had Christian parents.  But, it was also tantalizing.  She was from a different world.  I had to learn more. So, I hung out with her for about a week.  She shared her favorite curse words.  I said “Yes, I use those too.”  She said “I cussed my sister out.”  I said “Oh, I do that.”  She looked at me with a raised eyebrow and said “Really?  Tell me what you said.” I thought quickly.  There were only a few cuss words I even knew existed.  Finally, I settled on just repeating the few I knew.  I finished my made up tirade and looked at her.  She was smirking. She was not convinced and I was embarrassed.  I did not hang out with her again.  The whole experience was short lived, but I still remember it to this day.  As the years went by I realized the importance of friend choices.  I’ve always had amazing friends. *blessed*

Probably in the 5th grade the word ‘weird’ caught on.  Everyone was saying it.  I decided I’d say it too.  A girl has to constantly work on keeping her coolness up.  I started using it at home the first day I decided to introduce it into my vocabulary.  My father said, ‘What does weird mean? What is the definition?’  My sisters and I looked at each other.  Um.  “It means strange”.  My dad said ‘Go get the dictionary and look it up.  You shouldn’t say words you don’t know the definition of.’.  I still remember looking it up and reading the short definition. ‘Weird – magical or unearthly.’ I have even told my kids that definition without looking it up.  Funny how that stuff just sticks with me even years later.

Not long after that, maybe a year or so, I decided that ‘sucks’ was a word I should include in my vocabulary.  Other kids at school were saying it.  And, I heard it often enough that I could make it sound normal in conversation.  I started small.  I used it in group settings of friends.  No one batted an eye.  Excellent. I’d pulled it off!  My ascension to coolness was on its way!  I continued to use it out of my parents earshot.  It became engrained in my speech.  One day my sister and my friends were at my house.  I was probably in 6th grade by then.  My sister said something and I replied loudly “That sucks!”.  My dad looked at me.  I instantly got red.  I was in for it.  I knew it.  My dad sat down and said “Do you know what sucks means?”  We said “yes, it means like awful, or stupid or something.”  He said, “no.  It comes from a sexual reference” and he went on to explain.  My sister, my friends, and I just stared at him. What was he even talking about?  It may have that meaning to some people, but it certainly didn’t to us.  In fact, why was he trying to be so logical about the whole thing?  We were simply being cool and using the common lingo.  I remember staring at him and thinking ‘this conversation is really bizarre.  I am never going to remember this and it’s not a big deal if my friends & I are saying cool things. I can’t wait to be a parent so I can just let my kids do whatever and never correct them about stupid stuff.’

Now, I’m a mother.  I have three amazing children.  And, every once in awhile they say something or do something that brings out the logical conversation moment.  Just the other day they all three downloaded a fun new app all their friends are playing.  It’s called “Make it rain”.  They asked me.  I looked at it.  It seemed harmless enough.  It’s actually pretty lame.  They constantly have to ‘fling’ money on their screen.  Each of them was trying to outdo the others and their friends. Whatever. No biggie.  It’s not like they are sending inappropriate photos or anything.  My husband was in the kitchen while they were talking about it and he said ‘wait, it’s called what?’  My oldest said (slowly for his poor OLD dad to hear and understand) ‘Make it rain’.  My husband said ‘Do you know the what the phrase make it rain means?’ and he began to explain that gang bangers use that term in how they spread money to strippers.

And, immediately I left the room to go in my own room and have a chuckle at this full circle my life has had.  From the pre-teen to teen who was positive logical conversations would have no bearing on my life (and yet I remember them decades later) to the parent who explains things logically in hopes that it will make a difference somewhere in the kids’ brains.  Sometimes yelling is the go-to, but sometimes I try to sit down and be calm and logical so the kids might listen.  We will see.  They just might…

My (Our) Car


My oldest son is now 16.  He has been licensed by the state of California to drive.  However, he has not purchased a vehicle for himself.  After a few discussions on what car we intended to purchase him (which usually ended in me pointing and laughing at him – maybe mostly in my own head, but a little bit for real too) he managed to grasp the concept that we would SHARE my car.  And, if ever I purchase myself a new(er) car I will probably allow him to continue to drive my car.

I drive an old car.  My husband drives an old car.  Our insurance is low (well, as low as it can be with a 16 year old boy on our policy).  And, because I have no intention of purchasing a car for my son to drive I am happy to share as long as he continues to abide by the following conditions:

  • Driving safely!  This includes general maintenance that I hate like checking the oil to be sure the engine doesn’t blow up,  making sure the water level is fine, filling it with fuel so we doesn’t get stranded, no texting while driving…ever.  These basic parent “rule-things” that I think all kids have to agree to when driving.
  • He must text me when he arrives somewhere or leaves somewhere.  I want to know where to look for his body if something awful happens.  I don’t want to be the mom who has to tell the police “well, he left at 6:30am and said something about friends, but I haven’t seen or heard from him in nearly 24 hours”.  It doesn’t have to be elaborate.  Just a simple ‘here’ or ‘leaving’.
  • Drive siblings to school and bringing them home.  Carting siblings is a must because if I don’t have a car someone has to cart them.
  • Running random (and probably mostly boring) errands as needed for me.  The fact that he’d probably rather sit on the couch and text his girlfriend or spend awhile playing X-box means nothing to me.  Me providing fuel, vehicle, and insurance = him running my errands cheerfully (or at least cheerfully when I see him.  He can grumble in the car if I’m not there to hear it).

Apparently, the one thing I didn’t cover is the meaning of sharing.  I thought this was covered in Kindergarten.  But, I learned yesterday that he needed refresher course.

On days when I have no need of my car I allow him to take the car (filled with the twins) to school. I get to work 2 hours before our office opens for business.  Sometimes I have actual work I can start on.  Sometimes I don’t.   Then, after he’s done with school and any after school activities he is supposed to come pick me up.  Yesterday was one such day.  He dropped me off at 6:30am and headed off to his 7:00am class.  He texted me when he arrived (yes, all I got was ‘here’, but it was enough).  Then, I worked all day.  He did his thing.  I assumed he would be at my office about 5:30.  But, he didn’t arrive.  About 6:00pm I decided to text him.  My goal was to not sound paranoid so I did not text “WHERE ARE YOU!?!”  I sent a simple “hey, what time do you think you’ll be here?”  He texted back, “I’m at home.  I just made food.  I will pick you up on my way to basketball practice.”  (note: Basketball practice was still another hour and a half away)  I looked at my phone for a second and then sent another text, “Is that a joke?”  He texted, “no”.  And, so I picked up the phone and called him.  We had a short but clear discussion on SHARING.  You know, the fact that we are sharing MY car, MY fuel, etc.  That little tidbit.  He hung up and came to pick me up.  When I got in the car I said “I’m sorry, but what were you thinking?  Your objective when you have my car is as soon as you leave school to COME GET ME because I am STRANDED at the office.”  He said “well, I thought about it, but that just seemed like a lot of running around.”  My mind was reeling.  Oh.no.you.did.not.  Really?

It should be known (and recognized – I expect some sort of gold star on my chart somewhere where records of such things are kept!) that I did not abuse him.  I didn’t even yell.  I just agreed. Yes.  It is a lot of running around to get everyone where they need to go, picked up when they are finished, and still do the things we want to do.

I’m not sure I can make it through another two teens.  Pray for me, friends!